#4 – The Not Quite Trillion Dollar Man

Until 2015, Quintin Price was Global Head of BlackRock’s Alpha Strategies business where he was responsible for nearly $1 trillion of assets under management and was a member of the Global Executive Committee, working closely with Larry Fink. Quintin has 30 years of experience in financial markets and is exactly the sort of guest we seek to have on the podcast – a wealth of experience, retired from day to day fund management, and not afraid to speak out, as you will hear.

SUMMARY

In this interview, a rarity for Price, he talks about his snakes and ladders route to success, why doing the work is an integral part of his approach, and how putting clients first is the key to success in any business. Putting yourself in the client’s shoes not only ensures that you are delivering the right product, it also removes any possible temptation for ethical conflict. 

INTRODUCTION

Quintin Price was born in Saigon, grew up in India and, for the past twenty years has worked at the very top of the financial services industry. He currently advises a variety of public and private companies. Until 2015, he was Global Head of BlackRock’s Alpha Strategies business where he was responsible for nearly $1 trillion of AUM. Quintin’s wealth of experience at the highest level of the asset management industry and his willingness to speak out made this an insightful episode.

GETTING INTO INVESTING

Quintin did not originally start as an equity analyst but he explains how he made his mark as a sell-side analyst at James Capel, when he exposed the lack of earnings and cash flow at Robert Maxwell’s quoted vehicle.
Source: The Guardian

BLACKROCK

Quintin reached the Global Executive Committee of Blackrock, one of the world’s largest asset managers. Some saw him in the running for the role of Fink’s successor as CEO.

HOW TO SUCCEED IN ASSET MANAGEMENT

To be successful in asset management, you need flair and effort – these are the keys to success and you need a sense of engagement and energy, you need to be deeply interested in what you are doing.

He worked closely with Larry Fink for 10 years. Recently, Blackrock overtook Goldman, Sachs in capitalisation. He was very patient, he upgraded people progressively. But he also worked incredibly hard and his command of the details of my business (45% of Blackrock’s revenues) were greater than mine.

Learn what he thinks of Larry Fink, after watching him for 10 years at close quarters.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT PM?

Talent comes in all sorts of diverse shapes and sizes. Great investors have extraordinary clarity of thought; are not proud about reversing their decisions; and understand what process works for them. Blackrock did not seek to impose a top down style – Quintin believes that everyone has their own approach and that will be what works for them.

HELPING OTHERS

On Reggie Nelson, the council house kid whom Quintin and his wife Elizabeth helped and guided to a job in asset management, who was featured on the BBC – Reggie was just trying to work out “how do I end up in a big house in Kensington?”

ABOUT QUINTIN PRICE

Quintin has had a varied career in finance, notably at Blackrock as a member of the Global Executive Committee, responsible for nearly $1 trillion in assets under management covering all active (fundamental & quantitative) equity strategies globally, as well as fixed income. He began his career as a credit analyst followed by four years in derivatives research & trading and subsequently in equity research. He then joined James Capel & Co. as an analyst, becoming Global Head of Research before moving to asset management in a similar role at Puttnam, moving to Gartmore and then to Blackrock. Quintin is a graduate of Bristol University in Economic & Social History and the author of “Warrants, Options & Convertibles”.

Quintin+Price

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Quintin recommended two books: The Will to Lead by Marvin Bower and Winning by Jack Welch.

HOW STEVE KNOWS THE GUESTS

Quintin’s wife, Elizabeth, used to be a fund manager and was one of Steve’s favourite clients. He visited them on a business trip to Boston – Elizabeth kindly gave him a bed for the night when every hotel room for miles around was booked up for the biggest baseball game of the season – and they have stayed in touch since. It was Elizabeth who invited Reggie in for a cup of tea and changed his life – a wonderful story which Quintin explains in the podcast; a video of Reggie is below. Quintin kindly reviewed Steve’s book, and has always been available to give Steve advice, as has Elizabeth, who is an executive coach. Thank you both!

CHAPTERS

00:02 – Introduction to Behind the Balance Sheet
07:26 – Encountering Robert Maxwell
15:27 – Uncovering Maxwell’s Shenanigans
33:34 – Success and Setbacks in Careers
41:20 – Importance of Understanding Clients
52:10 – Inspiring and Mentoring Talent
01:03:29 – Lessons Learned from Quintin

 

TRANSCRIPT

AI-produced and lightly edited

 

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STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Quintin Price was born in Saigon, grew up in India and for the past 20 years has worked at the very top of the financial services industry. He currently advises a variety of public and private companies.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: But until 2015, he was Global Head Of BlackRock’s Alpha Strategies Business, where he was responsible for nearly $1 trillion of assets under management and was a member of the Global Executive Committee, reporting directly to Larry Fink.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Quintin has 30 years of experience in financial markets and is exactly the sort of guest we’re hoping to have in the podcast, a wealth of experience retired and not afraid to speak out. As you will hear in this interview, a rarity for price. He talks about his snakes and ladders route to success.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Why doing the work is an integral part of his approach and how putting clients first is the key to success in any business, putting yourself in the client’s shoes, not only ensures that you’re delivering the right product, it removes any possible temptation for ethical conflict. I hope you enjoy this episode.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Quintin. Thank you so much for coming on. It’s great to have you, Steve.

QUINTIN PRICE: Thank you very much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: So let’s start with your early history because you studied economic and social history at Bristol University and then you ended up as the trillion dollar man at Black Rock. How did that come about?

QUINTIN PRICE: Well, as, as with most careers, Steve, I think there’s a bit of rationalization when you get to the, the final few laps. But the reality is that there’s a, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a sort of healthy element to snakes and ladders, I think in most people’s careers and I’ve stepped on a few snakes and I’ve climbed a few ladders.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, what you see is the result between the two, but funnily enough, you know, to, to your point when I was at Bristol, I didn’t have any capital. It was, I was graduating in 1983. The sai brothers were in their prime as, as sort of icons of the advertising world. I was aware that it would be, really helpful to be able to make a good living.

QUINTIN PRICE: So I was sort of thinking about things that I could do that were fun and hopefully lucrative.

QUINTIN PRICE: I was pretty focused and I thought I’d go into advertising and I interviewed with a load of advertising companies and just realized they weren’t really my type of people. And so I looked around and a friend of mine from school had joined an American Bank the year before. He seemed to be enjoying it. I did a bit of work on those and it seemed that that was an interesting world and I was fascinated by America.

QUINTIN PRICE: I’ve never been there. So I joined an American Bank and, and set out on my career as a banker. But the, you know, maybe we’ll come back to it later. But, but funnily enough, the advertising thing cropped up again because my move into fundamental research really was occasioned by the fact that one of the advertising analysts in the firm, I was working at the time James Cable left and I was running derivatives research.

QUINTIN PRICE: I thought, gosh, it would be so fascinating to analyze all those companies that I thought about joining. So I asked the senior media analyst for a job and he offered me the role that had fallen vacant and that’s how I got into the investment game.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Now, that’s really interesting because cable was a fantastic firm. So we started around the same time and capable is always the number one and always the the people to beat and you were the media analyst. So talk about Maxwell communications because you did this great note in 1989 I guess, exposing Robert Maxwell as a crook and of fraud.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I’ve just finished reading Robert Preston’s book, The Fall. I don’t know if you’ve read it, but it’s a fantastic account of Maxwell and this larger than life character. What, what was James Capable like?

QUINTIN PRICE: And what was it like following Robert Maxwell Well, James Cable was the most fun you could have legally. It was the most lovely firm full of very talented people, as you say, I had a, an unparalleled reputation at the time for doing very, very good industry research.

QUINTIN PRICE: There was some, some fantastically smart analysts there including actually my boss, Neil Blackley, who, who was the senior media analyst.

QUINTIN PRICE: But my lucky break did come with Maxwell rather, rather ironically because I was, I was still very early on in my days as a media analyst. In fact, it was just you, you, you’re, you’re around the right time. It just flipped over into 1990 rather than 1989.

QUINTIN PRICE: But it was around that time and Robert Maxwell ran at the time, two companies, Maxwell Communication Corporations and Mirror Group, Mirror Group was not publicly, was not publicly questioned at the time. So, so I was only analyzing Maxwell Communication Corporation.

QUINTIN PRICE: And because my boss was the senior media analyst and because he was the star and I was just this unknown, he gave me all the sort of rubbish companies follow. And so I was following some really interesting companies like Ratners and next and Burton Group, which were all at the time, sort of fallen angels if you will.

QUINTIN PRICE: And and, and one of the others he gave me to cover was Max. So, so when the report accounts came out, in 1990 audited by Coopers and my brand, I took them home over a weekend and I worked on them and, and people like you experts, like you in forensic accounting had, had taught me that there’s an extraordinary amount that you can glean from a report on account.

QUINTIN PRICE: So I, I worked all weekend analyzing all of the accounts, the notes to the accounts. The, the crucial note was Note 29 D which in a sense revealed what was going on, which was the company was hemorrhaging cash.

QUINTIN PRICE: So I came in on Monday morning and I spoke to our sales team which at the time was transacting about one in five bargains in the London market and said this is so much worse than people realize and salesmen like nothing more than a good story. They’re almost like sort of journalists.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so they got on the phone to their clients and the clients all wanted to meet. And so as this relatively unknown understudy, I was taken around to see the plants and I took them through the research. But the interesting thing about it was that it wasn’t really a, a groundbreaking piece of research in the sense it was all in the accounts.

QUINTIN PRICE: You know, I, I didn’t have any blinding insight. I just did the work and in many ways that served to inform me in my entire career, which is just working really hard actually can make a big difference to your success. So we sold millions and millions and millions of shares.

QUINTIN PRICE: And that attracted Robert Maxwell’s attention because he borrowed money against the value of his holdings. And so he repeatedly tried to get me fired and got various of his hands in the media to claim I was making a false market and making false accusations. But fortunately, I was raised in a family where moral principles were important.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I never forget my father writing to me at the time saying I know this is really uncomfortable for you, but you’re doing the right thing and you must stick to your guns regardless of the consequences because it’s really important that these things come to light. And of course, you know, history being what it was some time later, he was, he was found floating off the back of his yacht and no longer alive.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so obviously, that was a big break for me because I’d been quite instrumental in, in a sense blowing the whistle on, on the Maxwell shenanigans. And that got me promoted to, to doing a bigger sector much faster than I’d than I’d anticipated in being a senior analyst in retail. So, so that was sort of what got me started. So rather paradoxical.

QUINTIN PRICE: I sort of Robert Maxwell a, you know, a thank you for, for providing me with that opportunity.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: It’s a great story and it’s a great moral, isn’t it? That people don’t necessarily always do the work? And I, I can remember at that time, the media analyst at my firm having seen your research being talked about in the press or whatever, he came to me with the Maxwell account.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And if I, I, I mean, I probably got the numbers completely wrong but if I remember it correctly and it was a long, I mean, 1990 it’s 30 years ago. So forgive me. But I remember it was something like the, we reported 100 and 61 million pretax profit and 100 and 59 million of it was foreign exchange gains something.

QUINTIN PRICE: I mean, it was just, you got a remarkable memory.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: It was something I, I, I can only, I can, I can’t remember what I, where I left my glasses 30 minutes ago. But I think that’s just the, the, you know, the what happens with age. But you said something about James Capable, which I think is very interesting. There was this marvelous place to work. It was a paragon of virtue where research was concerned. Why don’t we have firms like that anymore?

QUINTIN PRICE: Well, of course, this was just after the big bang, which as you know, took place in the sort of mid to late eighties.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I think 85 James Capable was still an agency broker which for those of your listeners who, who don’t understand what that is we, we took a commission on any share bargains that we transact transacted, but we didn’t take any positions as market makers.

QUINTIN PRICE: So we, we sought to make no profit from, from, from owning or, or being short of selling shares in, in order to buy them back more cheaply from trading if you will. And, and at the time, that was still very much rewarded in a way where you could make a living.

QUINTIN PRICE: And of course, the other thing, although James Cable had almost none of this, was that an awful lot of, research departments had replaced the old fixed commission system which had been quite lucrative, which had been abandoned in Big Bang with fees that were from investment banking advice.

QUINTIN PRICE: And of course, you know, many would argue that although those fees were, were, were big in many cases, they helped to undermine the integrity of the research process a view, I think, which I would agree with actually, because you suddenly created an enormous conflict of interest which, especially those firms who are used to working in a rules based rather than the principles based environment found almost irresistible.

QUINTIN PRICE: And there were some very well documented as, you know, well, publicized scandals about that with, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, selling shares or assessing shares in ways which turned out to be wholly inappropriate because of their banking relationship.

QUINTIN PRICE: So I think the reason we don’t have them anymore is the economics have fundamentally changed in that business. And the institutional investors who used to pay for it, they, or the investment banking fees were, were sort of not allowed to subsidize those research departments and the, and the institutional investors built their own in house research departments.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so in a sense they spent money internally on, on their own research rather than with what’s, you know, colloquially regarded as the sell side or, you know, the brokerage community.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Yeah, it’s I mean, it’s interesting the way that they think the whole things panned out and tell me on Maxwell, did you spend time with them or was he one of these people that didn’t like to spend time with people that disagreed with him in, in case he got found out? And, and if, and were there any signals?

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I mean, was it one of those things that you, you, you knew the way you knew what he was doing? And you spotted that repeatedly thereafter? I can remember the very first note that I did that I had an aggressive impact on the share price.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And the reason I knew to push it very aggressively and market it very strongly in the, in, in the marketplace was this finance director had told me, Steve, you don’t understand. And ever since when a company said to me, Steve, you don’t understand, I’ve thought. Oh, that’s a real warning signal. Was there anything like that with, with Maxwell?

QUINTIN PRICE: That was, and, and I did meet Captain Bob as he was known.

QUINTIN PRICE: He, he, he struck me as a man who was almost certainly certifiably insane. By the time I knew him, he was, he was in his own world.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I met him in very bizarre circumstances actually because I, I wrote this note which we were very careful to share with clients but not officially published. So we, we, we took them through the mechanics of the numbers rather than published a piece of work.

QUINTIN PRICE: So it remained in draft form because we knew that he was very litigious and, and of course, we, because we were selling so many shares and, and at those in those days, Goldman Sachs rented office space in what was called Maxwell House, which was Robert Maxwell’s office building in no longer exists and it was torn down and I think it’s now the Sainsbury’s headquarters. And so Goldman would parcel up from what I understand.

QUINTIN PRICE: This is the, the, the version of events that was explained to me by somebody who was at Goulburn at the time when we were selling millions and millions of these shares and we really were selling huge quantities of them. They would buy them and then their traders would offer them to Maxwell knowing that he had to buy them at a certain price because he’d borrowed money against the value of his holdings.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so, in a sense, if he didn’t buy them from Goulburn, then his share price would fall and there would be calls on his collateral and that would be catastrophic. And it was pretty evident to anybody who really looked into it that he was already in trouble.

QUINTIN PRICE: So, Goldman made a very tidy profit again, from what I was told this is all alleged on, on buying them off us as a certain price and then selling them to Maxwell at a, at a higher price. And and making a turn on that.

QUINTIN PRICE: But because they told him that James Cable was doing the selling, he then wrote letters to the chairman of then H S PC Investment Bank because H S PC owned James Cable by then and said, you know, you’re, you’re misleading investors, blah, blah, blah. And so I was summoned to see the chief executive James Cable who fortunately for me had qualified as an accountant and his name was David Dugdale.

QUINTIN PRICE: He was a very gruff character, but a very good man. And he said, take me through the numbers and I did and he said, yeah, you’re right. So we’ll back you. And, and so we wrote back saying, you know, we think what we’re doing is fair.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so Maxwell then continued to threaten litigation. And one of the sort of honor branches we offered him was that, Neil Blackley and I would go and meet with, Bob, and see if we can resolve our differences. And so we went there and we met with actually Ian, sorry, Kevin and Bob.

QUINTIN PRICE: Kevin being, Bob’s son and Basil Brooks who was the then CFO and we had a conversation and we agreed to disagree because it was quite evident that pretty well everything that they were coming up with, there was an invention and we carried on selling the shares and, you know, in the end, it did go back bankrupt.

QUINTIN PRICE: But I was very lucky because at James Cable, we had this extraordinary stable of people who, who also took on other quite well known sort of shall we say Buccaneers? So, three of my colleagues at the time were engaged in similar, although slightly less scary disputes in certain cases with Roger Felber at Parkfield, John Ashcroft at Color and George Walker at Brent Walker, all of whom also went bankrupt.

QUINTIN PRICE: So those three analysts were also in receipt of all sorts of threats of litigation. And, and I think of those, the one that I buy most was my colleague, Max Sting who took on George Walker and, and George who who ran Brent Walker before it went bust, had had actually been in prison for GB H earlier in his life.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so he was a boxer, he was a boxer among other things. He was also a gangster. And, and so, you know, in that sense, even though it was quite scary dealing with Maxwell and very stressful, I lost quite a lot of weight at the time, which wasn’t altogether unwelcome. But, he, Max had to deal with, with George Walker who was, you know, he was a man who had connections that I wouldn’t want to encounter on a dark night.

QUINTIN PRICE: So, in many ways, I felt the solidarity of good company and, and other principled people. And I think that really helps and it is something that gives you an enormous amount of courage. I think when you’re, when you’re surrounded by other people doing the same thing.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: No, absolutely. That support you and you fared better than Derek Tethering who was the Philips and Drew analyst who famously wrote a note with the recommendation. Can’t recommend a purchase with the first letter in bold spelled vertically down the page. And Maxwell took great exception to that and had him fired.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And that, I mean, it’s, it’s funny in a way because there he was, he had the courage to stand up like you against that, the, this mad CEO and founder, but he lost his job and, you know, I, I don’t know that, I don’t know that he ever resurfaced because of course, if he’d gone, if anybody else had employed him, Maxwell would have taken him at them as well.

QUINTIN PRICE: So he did, he did, he did smaller firms and, and I think that was a blot on U BS S reputation actually, not standing by him. That’s my view. And I think we should call those things out.

QUINTIN PRICE: I think they were intimidated by Maxwell and I’m profoundly grateful that you know, the Englishman who was my chief executive wasn’t because Maxwell was a big and scary guy who had expensive lawyers, so it wasn’t fun. But but as you know, what’s interesting about our world is that there are these Buccaneers and when people don’t challenge them, they get away with quite a lot for quite a long time.

QUINTIN PRICE: And then the people who end up suffering are the individual investors who’ve bought into that story and nobody’s blown the whistle. So, so probably innocent decent people get hurt by these things.

QUINTIN PRICE: And it always struck me that it was really important to remember that at the end of these chains are not spreadsheets on Excel, you know, programs, there are real people with real money who stand to lose. And so your moral responsibility as a as an analyst was to do your very, very best to help those people make money legitimately and avoid losing money where there were dangers of losing money.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and you know, we can both think about all sorts of occasions. Not, not just the, the ones I’ve noticed but many others where, you know, crooks and vagabonds got away with stuff for quite a long time because, you know, the institutional world was too pusillanimous to actually stand up to it or too compromising.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: It’s funny, isn’t it? Because you don’t get as many Buccaneers as you, as you did back then? But you’re still, you still see frauds and it, it’s a different type of fraud. And the, the solution always, I think is your point is do the work. But let’s move on from cables because you then spent time at Putnam and indeed is head of research and then his co cio I think at TMO. So tell me, talk a little bit about your experiences.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I mean, do the different sides of the Atlantic. Do Americans make better investment managers? We’ve got generally got bigger investment firms. What are the benefits, the drawbacks, the different cultures if you had to blindfold yourself and invest in one fund and it was, you had a choice between an American, I better say an Englishman and a Scotsman, which would you pick and why?

QUINTIN PRICE: Well, that’s a very interesting question. I mean, as, as you know, or, or it’s a very entertaining question. The reality is that talent comes in all sorts of diverse shapes and sizes and in fact, you know, in many ways the, the, the crucial thing is not the, the, the nationality or the training or the cultural artifacts that you possess, but your understanding of what you are doing and why you’re doing it.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and I think I’ve met many brilliant investors of all stripes in the Middle East, in Asia, in the United States Of America in on the continent of Africa. And you know, in Greater Europe, if you will, including the UK and I, I, I would say that the thing that marks the, the, the, the truly brilliant investors out is they have an extraordinary clarity of thought. They are not proud about reversing their decisions.

QUINTIN PRICE: They understand what process works for them.

QUINTIN PRICE: So, so I, I think it’s very important in a sense for anybody thinking about this world to have a particular phrase which I used in many training programs in the firms I worked in over the years to describe this, which is I think that the essence of this is that you must find your own voice.

QUINTIN PRICE: It and the, and the, the metaphor I’ve always used is it’s a bit like musical influences or literary influences, but musical instru influences are perhaps easier to, to understand that whichever band you play in, whichever singer songwriter you might be, you are at some level influenced by who has gone before you.

QUINTIN PRICE: But if you’re Van Morrison, or if you’re Bob Dylan or if you’re Paul Simon or if you’re Chris Martin or if you’re Florence Welch or, you know, Florence the machine or if you’re Gloria Gaynor, you, you take in those influences but you find your own voice, you find your own means of expression.

QUINTIN PRICE: That is, that is in a sense authentically you and I think that’s the best metaphor I can give you for, for successful investing. That Johnny Armitage is a fabulous investor, but he does things in Johnny’s way. Chris Horn is an extraordinary investor. You know, Chris and Johnny get on very well from what I understand they are such different personalities.

QUINTIN PRICE: But but Chris has a totally different process to Johnny, probably reflective of his background, which started out in private equity and also probably his experience as a Harvard Business School. So, so, so I think finding your own voice is the crucial piece and that sounds in a sense so easy or simple, but it isn’t like all of these things in life, like becoming a great musician.

QUINTIN PRICE: Finding your own voice is surprisingly difficult and and that’s why most people don’t ultimately find it. They try and end up copying other people and becoming a bad past.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: It’s quite a difficult thing to do though, isn’t it? I mean, on my Analyst Academy course, where we take people in a 12 month program to learn about investing, I have a whole sequence of stuff interspersed between the lessons about how to build your own investment philosophy.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And, you know, I show the different investment philosophies of great investors. But it’s, I mean, it is really, really difficult because everybody does it in such a different way. Right? It’s a very, as you say, it’s a very, very personal thing and you can only find your own voice as you put it by making a lot of mistakes.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: So it’s, it’s a very, very tricky thing. But there must be cultural differences in the way that Brits approach, investing, the way Americans approach investing. I mean, it was there, was there anything that you were able to take from your experience in Boston and bring back to London that made a real difference that people going?

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Oh, I hadn’t done it that way because I remember being involved in a, in a flotation and it was the early days of Goldman’s in London and they were joint brokers to the company and the company would ask all sorts of difficult questions which our corporate finance team being hopelessly.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: British and amateur had no clue about. And Goldmans would come in the following day with, without, you know, 100 page Power point and, you know, our guys would go, how, how could they do that? You know, they couldn’t have done, they couldn’t have answered that question on their own market, let alone a global sector.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: There must have been some things like that where the Americans, they were just more advanced.

QUINTIN PRICE: It, I mean, at one level I agree with you and I also disagree with that contention.

QUINTIN PRICE: And what I mean by that is as follows that the thing that I learned from the Americans and that as a bright eyed bushy tailed graduate, I spent six months on a graduate training program in the States and with all the, you know, Yale grads and other people who were sort of comparably good universities and States to the top universities in the UK.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I, I think that the British graduates, that the, the, the, the ones I went with to the States, one had been at, two had been at Cambridge, one had been at Durham and I’d been at Bristol and in our class we had people from U Penn and Yale and, Wharton undergrad, et cetera. So, so we’re all, you know, relatively good, sort of qualification or backgrounds if you will. But the Americans just worked harder.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I remember thinking when I about three weeks into the training program, if we failed a test, this is not a cliche. It’s not a romantic notion. This is what actually happened if we failed one of our accounting tests, the people who felt it were fired and we had about a 20% dropout rate on our training program. And I was really shocked and very, I was very concerned in a sense that, that seemed to be very darwinist.

QUINTIN PRICE: But by the end of the six months, what struck me was that the people who had left almost certainly weren’t either qualified in one case, a delightful colleague of mine who he just didn’t really cut the mustard or weren’t interested and committed enough to want to be in finance and in banking.

QUINTIN PRICE: And in fact, there was a vastly talented guy there who had had come out of Berkeley on the west coast, but he ended up at CBS in the television business, which he should have been because he was so obviously that tight. And so he was sort of found out because he just couldn’t be bothered to engage. I mean, accounting as you know, it, you know, you have to do the grunt work, but it’s not rocket science.

QUINTIN PRICE: So this is not something that’s beyond people’s intellectual capabilities if you’ve got an intellect. And so, I loved the fact that I learned in the States, that effort has an enormous reward. And I, I brought that back with me age 24 thinking I’m just going to outwork my European colleagues and I worked unbelievably hard.

QUINTIN PRICE: For a very long time thereafter. Actually, I promised myself that when I got married and had children, I would have a better work life balance. And I, I worked very, very hard to achieve that. Not always successfully, but but I would say largely successfully.

QUINTIN PRICE: But the Americans just put the effort in. So Goldman, as in your reference would have had the answers, they would have, they would have written the whole book. But that doesn’t always mean that you have the flair that and in, in some ways, the virtue of effort, fullness can sometimes block out the sunshine of insight.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so where I agree with you is, I think the Americans do have a, a better, more thorough and professional approach to things as a default, but sometimes that effortful is a, is, is seen as an adequate substitute for flair and insight.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I don’t think it is, I think you need both and, and in the end, what’s so wonderful about the world is that it doesn’t matter where you come from if you’re prepared to do the hard work and you have the flare and insight regardless of your nationality, you are much more likely to win, not certain to win, but much more likely to win.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: It’s so true, isn’t it? And it’s true today. Surprisingly enough, I’ve been doing some presentations to university students and you, you do the presentation of the US students and they are, I mean, much more switched on and much more dedicated.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And I was talking to one kid who was the president of the finance club and he was interviewing at a hedge fund in the west coast and he was on interview number six and he had to do the most difficult submission. And I said, oh, well, that’s quite an interesting, submission.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I’ve got a couple of things for you and I, I sent him a couple of things immediately afterwards and the following week I saw something else and each time he came back to me and he said that’s really helpful. But why, and, and was really keen and hungry and, and that’s just so, so important, I think in order to be successful in our business.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Ok. So let’s go on to Black Rock. You, you ended up running the Alpha Strategies Division, which was set up in 2012. Tell me, how did that come about? What, what was the decision process that led to that creation? And how did you make it work well?

QUINTIN PRICE: Well, as I said, but I do believe that all of our careers to a greater or less extent involve getting bitten by the old snake and being slowed down by that and finding the odd ladder that enables you to take a few more steps faster than others. Most of those are random, not all of them.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I think if you look out for the ladders and you are cautious about where you step, you can avoid some snakes, but there are random elements in all of our careers. And I’ll, I’ll just, I’ll just back that up before I answer your question with a couple of examples about this that many people today will cite and quite rightly, Jamie Diamond as the leading banker of this generation.

QUINTIN PRICE: I think there’s no real dispute about that.

QUINTIN PRICE: If you look at the share price returns of JP Morgan relative to its peer group over the past 20 years since Jamie’s been chief executive, his record is unsurpassed and truly remarkable and, and that’s, that’s during a period where it, it’s very difficult to dispute it over 20 years as you know, sometimes you get lucky for five years or whatever, but over 20 skill is going to play a very large part in that equation.

QUINTIN PRICE: But Jamie was working for Sandy Wall and fired Sandy’s daughter at one point, which didn’t go down altogether. Well with Sandy who then ended up firing Jamie who took 18 months off and then ended up running a pretty moron bank in Chicago Bank one before merging it into JP Morgan.

QUINTIN PRICE: And then sort of in a sense playing the Duke Of Edinburgh to Bill Harrison’s you know, monarch, if you will for the two years before Bill Harrison, who was then chairman of JP Morgan Chase, retired and, and you know, Jamie then took it on and the rest is history. But the point about is very few people dwell on the fact that Jamie had that really quite significant setback.

QUINTIN PRICE: Very few people dwell on the fact that Jamie in an interview that I read with, of his talks very. He, he was at a good prep school as the Americans call it in New York. He was always quite outspoken.

QUINTIN PRICE: But he wanted to go to Brown University, but he didn’t get the references from his teachers who thought he was a bit up himself. And so he ended up going to Tufts in Boston, a very good university but not maybe at the level of Brown.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so that must have been a setback, but he dusted himself down. He got him admit himself, admitted to Harvard Business School and he was a baker scholar I E in the top 5% of that class. And it was a very illustrious class.

QUINTIN PRICE: But the point about that is that even the most successful people have setbacks. My boss at that rock, Larry Fink was one of the youngest, if not the youngest managing director at first Boston as it was at the time then. So first Boston and he, he fell foul of a position he took in the mortgage market and had in a sense, had to resign.

QUINTIN PRICE: But that was his starting point for starting what was originally Blackstone Asset Management and then bought out of that became Black Rock Asset Management and the rest is history.

QUINTIN PRICE: He’s now the most successful practitioner of asset management if you will, that’s ever lived. So, you know, Larry also like Jamie came back from very adverse circumstances at one point in his career. So, I was lucky in the sense that I was recruited by Merrill Lynch investment managers.

QUINTIN PRICE: And five months I, after I was recruited BlackRock bought Merrill Lynch investment managers. So for me, that was an arranged marriage. I didn’t join BlackRock. I was acquired by BlackRock and having been acquired by BlackRock, which was a bond firm in those days, a bond shop.

QUINTIN PRICE: You know, they could arguably barely spell the word equities and, and I was working in the equities division with some vastly talented people whose performance was very strong, which made me look very good. How much impact I had on that performance, I will leave others to determine.

QUINTIN PRICE: But my own view is a pretty modest amount of that was due to me. In fact, almost all of it was due to those very talented people. And and I, I sat atop them, hopefully, I created good relationships, helped them be free to do their jobs, managed them well.

QUINTIN PRICE: But, you know, I always saw that job as I was the manager of the football team, not the key striker. And I think part of the advantage I had was that in not wanting to be the key striker, I didn’t really provide a threat or you know, if you will, a sort of nuisance value to a lot of very talented people who like running money.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and then my man management skills appeared to be valued by Black Rock. And so I got progressively promoted, but these things as, as we both know, somewhat to good fortune and hopefully a small amount of talent, but, but largely to good fortune.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And what was it like being at the, the center at the top of this, of enormous organization? And how do you manage the process of you? You’ve got a huge, huge firm, but this is a very personal job. And how do you decide how much autonomy you could devolve down to the people who are very responsible and talented and how much control do you need at the center?

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I mean, because I find this an extraordinarily difficult decision and you get this all these mad decisions, especially asset management firms, especially at larger firms where there is some great machine at the center, controlling everything and the guys that, you know, just trying to do something at the, you know, the remote outpost.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I like, well, if only I was allowed to, how did you, you, I mean, you knew what it was like being at the sharp end in the art post. So how did you manage to reconcile those two conflicting objectives, keeping the control center but keeping the freedom at the at the sharp end?

QUINTIN PRICE: Yes, it’s a good question. I think it goes back to that point about finding your own voice. And I, I realized very early on when I was at James C, in fact that I had a facility for leading and managing people. And I liked working with people.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I, I remember very early on at James Cable, I had a psychometric profile done, you know, amidst a whole cohort of people who were also assessed it at the same time. And the psychologist who administered the test said to me, your levels of tolerance and patience are, are an outlier, you’re much, much more tolerant and patient than most professional managers.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I said to him, is that a good or a bad thing? And he said, I, I don’t know that it’s either, it’s just what you make of it. And, and I think the way I looked at that was that often working in any service business, but particularly with people who have latitude like fund managers.

QUINTIN PRICE: Yeah, you know, managers in order to outperform the market, you, you’ve got to be capable of taking a non consensus view against your peer group who are equally clever and being absolutely convinced. You’re right. And that, that means that, you know, a number of them have fairly ordinary characteristics. And and so they tend to be mistrustful.

QUINTIN PRICE: I remember Sally craze, a noted analyst at Sanford Bernstein being asked, how do you know when a management’s lying? And she said, when they move their lips and I’m not cynical but I was quite entertained by the, by her answer. And, and so I realized early on that, in fact, most people, however ordinary, they are disagreeable. They are grump, grumpy, resistant to authority.

QUINTIN PRICE: They are human beings who if you understand them and you make it clear to them that you understand what they’re trying to do and you’re, and you can win their trust. It is remarkable what they’ll do in reciprocal, ways for you. So I read a very, very interesting piece in Harvard Business Review by, Rob Goff, and Gareth Jones called, why should anybody be led by you?

QUINTIN PRICE: And it’s still one of the best articles that I could ever recommend to anybody because they, they really analyzed what it was that made effective leaders and a lot of it was about showing your own vulnerability without overdo it obviously. And then, being authentic and I thought those seem very reasonable things to do. So I just tried to be very human with people, but I also had very hard lines.

QUINTIN PRICE: If people transgressed on matters of principle, then, you know, we came down very hard on them because we were in the trust business and we couldn’t afford to breach that trust with our clients. And I felt the cio I was always the client’s representative in the firm. And so what the, you know, I always just looked at it through the lens of in this circumstance, what would the clients want us to do? And we always did that.

QUINTIN PRICE: So that was great and, and that makes the scale of it much easier to deal with because you have very clear guidelines as to how to behave. And then I was really, really excited and attracted by the strategy of asset management. How do you grow the size of your business? And that to me again, was part of the moral imperative of finding out what it was that plants wanted and giving it to them.

QUINTIN PRICE: Because in a sense you serve them. And I never forget when I went into broking and a very smart salesman, I work with said the way to win in this game is to find out what your client’s biggest problem is and help them solve it.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I’ve always used that I’ve always just thought, well, we’re in the business of serving clients and as long as you stay focused on the clients and what they need and servicing that in a way that’s ethical and commercial and effective they will repay you. And I think that’s still true today.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: It’s funny actually because it’s true of every business, isn’t it?

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I mean, as long as you understand what the client wants and you understand what clients problems are, you’re laughing as long and you know, so many successful businesses have been successful by having that very clear lens and and not necessarily focusing entirely on that, but it, it’s a brilliant example, I mean, quite interesting your approach to recruiting talent because I I when I was doing some research about you, one of your colleagues said, one of Clinton’s most significant undertakings in recent years has been to add talent to our portfolio management teams in our fundamental active equity franchise, particularly in the US and Asia.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: We brought in new portfolio managers who are currently responsible for approximately 50 billion in assets. And those managers are delivering on their objective of generating high quality risk adjusted returns. Tell us what was the secret for someone looking to get a job with you? And what do you think is the ideal background experience, philosophy for people that are looking to get into the investment business?

QUINTIN PRICE: Gosh, That is a very interesting question. So, so some, some very key issues there.

QUINTIN PRICE: I once was talking to a very, very successful head hunter who had called me up and she’d said, I think you should think about this particular job and I said, well, that’s very flattering, but it’s not really my sphere of influence or, or expertise. And she said, no, no, no, I’m sure you could do it.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and I said, well, I, you know, I, I, I’m, I’m grateful that you think that, but I’m not sure I, I share your view but, but, you know, your job’s really interesting, isn’t it? How do you make these assessments? I was very interested in her process and she said, oh, I grade everybody.

QUINTIN PRICE: I’ve got 100 and 40,000 people on my database and I grade everybody from a plus down to C minus. And I thought about that for a minute and I thought, goodness, you know, I work with some really talented people.

QUINTIN PRICE: So I said to her, gosh, that, you know, it must be really difficult to distinguish between, say the A plus and the A s and she just laughed and she said, you know, there are 32 A pluses on my database. And she said they are the easiest people in the world to identify because when they walk in, you just know, and that never left me.

QUINTIN PRICE: And that doesn’t mean that you can always recruit a pluses because there just aren’t that many of them, but that’s what you’re looking for. And so, I can think about two particular recruit, recruits that I made at Black Rock inequities that both built very, very substantial books of business.

QUINTIN PRICE: And in the interview process, it was very clear to me that they were both people who were extraordinarily talented. But I was very lucky because in seeking to recruit those people, I had a firm that was very commercial behind me who could, you know, the firm could pay competitively.

QUINTIN PRICE: And while the cultural characteristics of Black Rock weren’t always copacetic with my own. It was a very, I’m, I’m trying to think of a polite phrase for it. It was a very, sort of assertive culture. Let’s, let’s leave it as English euphemism.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and yet I learned an enormous amount about various things from my experience as a Black Rock. I, I watched a man who has founded a firm, a firm whose market capitalization now is in excess of Goldman Sachs.

QUINTIN PRICE: This is Larry Fink. I watched him at very close quarters for 10 years and I learned an enormous amount about how he thought about the business, how he paced things. It seemed to me that he had a very clear plan about who to upgrade, but he was very patient, he would upgrade people progressively so that there was never too much disturbance in the business.

QUINTIN PRICE: And again, Larry may dispute this, but this was my inference in watching him, but he was also somebody who in that same way that we’re talking about, you know, you need both flair and effort. Larry worked incredibly hard and I mean, really breathtaking hours and commitment.

QUINTIN PRICE: But he also had the ability to just sit back and take a 30,000 ft view when necessary while while being able to drill into the most extreme detail. And you know, you and I are both ex analysts. I would back myself on numbers pretty well against anyone, maybe not against you. But pretty well against anyone else.

QUINTIN PRICE: But when Larry used to ring me and ask me questions about the business which, you know, its peak was about 45% of black rocks revenues. His, his command of the detail of my business was greater than mine. And, you know, I’m embarrassed to say that I was blown away by that, but he took me to places and dimensions that I just didn’t even know were possible.

QUINTIN PRICE: But you know, in any, in any assessment of truly world class, effective commercial leadership, Larry has got to be, he’s probably built the most valuable company in America outside the technology business over the last 30 years. That’s a remarkable achievement.

QUINTIN PRICE: So of course, he’s a remarkable man that doesn’t make me want to be him because he’s a very different personality to me. And what motivates him is not what motivates me, but I can admire and respect you know, elements of his achievement. And I can also learn from those things which I did.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I think that that helps you hone your own decision making style and it helps you in those 10,000 hours that we all need. When we’re seeking to become experts, you just have to do work and you have to do your 10,000 hours in order to know how to react in certain circumstances because you’ve done it 25 times before. No different to an er doctor.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: The is it fascinating what you, what you’re saying about Larry Fink and he must be an incredibly driven guy because he would never have been able to build such an incredibly successful business with, with that without that. But say, you know, there’ll be young people listening to this and they all will express a desire to work hard, but they, they, they haven’t had the opportunity to do it yet.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: What other things would impress them, impress you if they came for an interview? So they’d say, yeah, I’m, they’ve listened to this, I’m gonna work really hard. No, nothing’s gonna be too much trouble. What are, are there things in people’s backgrounds or philosophy or approach or is it, is it’s such a diverse area investing and people are approaching so such different ways?

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: My guess is that there isn’t anything that you can point to that says that will, that will work. Is there, is there anything, I mean, do you have any pet loves or pet hits when you’re, you’re looking at young people when you’re looking at the graduate intake coming into Black Rock each year when you’re doing that.

QUINTIN PRICE: Yeah. It’s a very, it’s a, again a very interesting question and of course, I give it a lot of thought. I, I mean, I do think success can come in all shapes and sizes. I think the most important thing is to understand what your own shape and size is, as I’ve said before. And not try and bend yourself out of shape.

QUINTIN PRICE: So to your point, while I think in our industry, hard work still is an absolutely pre prerequisite. It, it isn’t as much of a prerequisite in other industries where, you know, the, the, the emphasis is much more on flair than it is on flair and effort, for instance.

QUINTIN PRICE: So a lot of the creative industries, you know, that, that you’ve got people who must be very, very difficult to work with indeed, but who have extraordinary flair and they, they are, they are tolerated if you will because of that flat. And we all know stories of actors and directors and musicians who would fit that bill.

QUINTIN PRICE: They didn’t necessarily work hard and not, not that any of them, you know, I’m sure Elton John worked incredibly hard on his musicality, for instance, because he was at the Royal Academy Of Music and most of them with that prodigious talent, you know, have some extraordinary, deep down sort of flair as well.

QUINTIN PRICE: But what I’m really looking for and what I was looking for is a real sense of engagement, a real energy, a, a sense that here is somebody who is deeply interested in what they’re doing. And I don’t think you can fake that. And if you can, it’s very difficult to fake it successfully.

QUINTIN PRICE: So we all know what it’s like to talk to people about their particular passion and they just light up and I was looking for that, that sense of people lighting up, not, not mindlessly but, people who really understood and had a joy in, in, in, you know, whatever it was that they were doing, selling, analyzing, whether it was product design or, or any other element of the business.

QUINTIN PRICE: But that level of engagement which in a sense, almost subconsciously communicates itself to the interviewer because it’s very difficult not to feel enthusiastic about something if the person sitting opposite you is being authentically enthusiastic about it.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great piece of advice. Can we talk about Reggie Nelson? Should I tell the story about it or maybe you, you color it in? I mean, this is an amazing story. This kid Reggie Nelson dreamed of a university education, a top job in the world to go with it, but he had no idea how to achieve it.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: He was born and raised in a council estate. So very poor family, a single mom after his father died, he’d been excluded from school. He’s already having run ins with the law. He went knocking on doors in a wealthy area in, in London where Quintin used to live.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: And Quentin, your wife Elizabeth invites him in for a cup of tea. Now, 23 Reggie says that Quintin is something of a father figure to him. Tell us the story about, about Reggie because it’s a fantastic inspirational story.

QUINTIN PRICE: I mean, well, I mean, my, my old boss at, put Larry Lasser, had a phrase which I’ve never forgotten which when he was chief executive, he said I get an awful lot of credit and an awful lot of blame for all sorts of things that happen around here.

QUINTIN PRICE: Almost none of which have anything to do with me. And I think in many ways I, I, I’m, I’m, I’m getting a disproportionate amount of credit for, for the Reggie story for where it’s featured. But, but let me fill in the, the, the blanks here.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and, and the first thing is that, of course, I wasn’t at home when Reggie knocked on our door or you happen to know my wife Elizabeth because she was a client of yours.

QUINTIN PRICE: And you know her well enough to know that she’s a insightful, instinctive, compassionate person who would recognize exactly what she did recognize in Reggie, which was an energetic, sincere 17 year old who is desperate to make something of his life. And so why wouldn’t you invite somebody like that in?

QUINTIN PRICE: And the fact that we lived in Kensington, quite interesting listening to people who have either seen the BBC video about Reggie or heard the story and, and a number of them have have said to me, gosh, you know, how, how brave of your wife to invite somebody in who, who was a complete stranger.

QUINTIN PRICE: And of course, there’s an element of code to this because Reggie also, he’s a Ghanaian extraction and he’s black and, and that I think is a desperately sad commentary on the level of mistrust that some people have in other people in society. You, you only have to meet Reggie for about three seconds to realize that he’s just a wonderful young man. He’s now 25.

QUINTIN PRICE: And he lost his father who tragically when, when he was 16 to alcohol poison, his father was an alcoholic.

QUINTIN PRICE: And his, his, his mother singlehandedly then took over, obviously raising him and his sister who’s also hugely spirited and talented. She raised them incredibly well. They’re very disciplined, very focused, very good fun. He’s got a wonderful sense of humor.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so when I got back, I’d been out in the park actually nearby and Elizabeth said, look, this is Reggie and I invited him to have a cup of tea because he was asking how you end up in a house like this.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I thought, well, when I was his age, I’d probably ask the same question. So how, how can I help this lad? And, and it struck me that he, he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but the best way of finding out is to just expose people to things. And obviously, you know, I worked in finance. So I thought, well, at least I can show him what finance is like.

QUINTIN PRICE: So I invited him in for a day’s work experience at Black Rock. Really just to give him a sense of what, you know, something like that was like. And it might help him say, well, I don’t want to do this, but I remember my daughter doing work experience at Goldman Sachs and saying I don’t want to do this after a day.

QUINTIN PRICE: And she now makes documentary films and it makes her very happy And I’m delighted by that. I don’t have that flare or talent. But I’m enormously proud of the fact that that’s what she does. And my son is in finance, actually in investment banking. And he’s a lot more thoughtful and intelligent than I’ll ever be.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I’m delighted by the fact that he’s doing something that floats his boat too. But Reggie came in, charmed everybody at that rock. He has exceptionally good manners, which by the way, I, I’ll come back to that in a minute. And at the end of the day I said to him, well, what do you think? And he said, gosh, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.

QUINTIN PRICE: And, and I said, well, why not come back for weeks sometimes? So we arranged that quite quickly when it was the school holidays. And he came in for a week and again, he charmed everybody and he worked really hard and listened. And then, he said to me, I’d really like to do this. And I said, OK, well, in order to get a good job in this industry, you need to go to university.

QUINTIN PRICE: So, is that something you would think about? Because I know you’re doing your A levels. And he said, well, I haven’t thought about it before but given that this is the prize. Yeah, you know, I will. So he went off to university.

QUINTIN PRICE: We, we I linked him up with a, a colleague of mine at work who had quite a similar background to Reggie, who’d also gone to university and read economics and Japanese weirdly but done very well. And Reggie ended up going to university reading economics and then applying for jobs and landing a very good job. He’s now at legal and General Investment management and a very good job there.

QUINTIN PRICE: But he works very hard. He’s given back a lot to his community. He does a huge amount of outreach. So sometimes I get invited along with him as his understudy to sort of tell the story. But of course, the story is really about Reggie. It’s not about me.

QUINTIN PRICE: It’s about the fact that here is a young man who saw his father’s life dissolved before his very eyes at a very young age and said that’s not gonna happen to me. And it, it really, it really gave him an extraordinary motivation to make something of his life and actually be Elizabeth.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I feel this profoundly that we have benefited far more from meeting Reggie than he has from meeting us because to be given that example by somebody so young, so impressive, so lacking in any cynicism and most importantly, lacking in any sense of victimhood, Reggie never felt sorry for himself and still doesn’t he just wanted to get on and do his thing.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I think we should all applaud people like that because they are the backbone of our societies. They’re the people who end up making money and paying taxes that pay for hospitals and schools and other things for people who are less fortunate than they are.

QUINTIN PRICE: And so I owe Reggie a debt of gratitude for knocking on our door and I give the credit to Elizabeth for inviting me in. I did the easy bit and really, it just, it was so easy for me to do it that I, I, you know, I deserve very little credit in this.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Well, we won’t give you any credit. We’ll give the credit to Elizabeth who’s a fantastic friend and, and brilliant, brilliant person. I think we, we can’t follow that. Quentin, let me just ask you one closing question.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I don’t know. Do you have a favorite book that stands out or what book practice or training would you recommend to someone that’s looking to come into the asset management industry? What do you think?

QUINTIN PRICE: Well, I, I did think about this before because, you know, as you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s, it’s a piece of advice that you and I both get asked by people often who are, who are sort of thinking about what to do. And I, I, I think, I do have a couple of thoughts on that.

QUINTIN PRICE: One is that my observation, I started running training programs at Black Rock, which I sort of wrote the material for myself because I always had an open door policy. And I used to try and be accessible to especially the younger generations as they joined. Because I think it’s terribly easy to seem like quite a forbidding character when you’re quite senior.

QUINTIN PRICE: And that scares off the youngsters and they don’t really know who to turn to for advice. So I, I had an open door policy and, and hopefully it worked and I used to get these younger employees coming into my office typically at the end of the working day and just sort of sitting down and asking, you know, a few questions.

QUINTIN PRICE: And what I realized over time in these conversations was that the same themes cropped up all the time. And they, they were typically themes around how, how, you know, how can I sort of guarantee my success and what do I need to do in order to be successful?

QUINTIN PRICE: And I realized that these were the same questions that I’d asked myself. And when I spoke to my friends they’d ask themselves. And as you know, Steve, there’s an element of postdoc rationalization in all of our lives, you know, 2030 40 years later where we, we, we sort of sort of attribute some rationality to various things we did.

QUINTIN PRICE: Whereas in fact, quite a lot of what we did was random at the time, it just seemed like the right thing to do. And so the books that I’m gonna recommend are, perhaps not to everybody’s taste or perhaps they are, I don’t know.

QUINTIN PRICE: But there are 21 is a book about leadership, which is called The Will To Lead by Marvin Bauer. And Marvin Bauer was the man who built mckinsey into the sort of powerhouse consulting firm that it became now all sorts of question marks around mckinsey’s integrity with, you know, various high profile issues that they’ve been involved with over the last couple of years.

QUINTIN PRICE: But that shouldn’t obscure the fact that mckinsey under Marvin Bauer was, was, was transformed from a sort of nascent consulting firm into an extraordinary consulting firm.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I think Bauer’s principles if you will, which are illus stated in the book are well worth everybody thinking about because in terms of running a professional services business, you know, if you, if you, if you want to either become a senior leader or lead your own business, I think it’s a book well worth thinking about. It’s very easy to read.

QUINTIN PRICE: It’s it’s not a difficult read. It’s very accessible, it’s beautifully written and it’s also very interesting. The, the other book, which is in many ways. So that’s sort of more of a philosophical treatise about the nature of leadership. But it is peppered with really practical sort of observations.

QUINTIN PRICE: The, the other book which again, he, he’s not everybody’s favorite character, but I met him and knew him quite well while he was alive was Jack Welch. He ran G E and again G E then ran into trouble, you know, probably 20 years after he retired, but he ran g vastly successfully for 20 odd years.

QUINTIN PRICE: And he wrote a book called Winning, which is not not only sort of an autobiography and a sense about his experiences at G but also in many ways, an enormously useful primer and a very practical book about the choices that we all have to confront about work and about the ambitions we have for work and at work.

QUINTIN PRICE: And Welsh is just very honest and authentic and clear about the decisions. This is a man who had three marriages and number of children by different wives, you know, so, you know, his life was not an altogether tidy life nor did he claim that it was. And in fact, Jack Jack was massively fulfilled by his business career.

QUINTIN PRICE: And I think probably though I wouldn’t want to comment to authoritatively on this at some cost to, you know, the family elements of his life. That isn’t an ambition that appeals to me. But he doesn’t impose that on anybody in the book.

QUINTIN PRICE: He just makes the point that you have choices and he’s very realistic about what those choices incur. So to give you an analogy, I remember Kim Cloisters who won Wimbledon saying I’m not going to play in Wimbledon next year because, you know, I want to have my baby and have some time off.

QUINTIN PRICE: And you know, there is this fashionable notion that somehow you can have it all. Well, you probably can but not all at the same time. And, and so, you can have it all in the sense that you can pursue your career single handedly, but that might cost you in your personal life or you can pursue your personal life singlehandedly and therefore make compromise in your career.

QUINTIN PRICE: But all of us has, has the option to optimize that to a greater or lesser extent. And what winning does is it describes those things very well. And I found that very, very helpful when I was faced with big moments in my career about how much to commit and how, how to commit and when to commit.

QUINTIN PRICE: And as I said earlier on completely instinctively, I remember thinking before I had children, I can work really, really hard for this period of my life because when I have children, I really want to have time to spend with my children and I made that time spend with my children, whether, whether they thank me for that or not, you’d have to ask them.

QUINTIN PRICE: But I’ve enjoyed it. And, so, you know, I think what winning does is it gives you that primer that’s hugely practically based and it forces you to confront those, those issues that are not very romantic in the sense that you do have choices.

QUINTIN PRICE: We wish we didn’t, but we do. And if you look at, you know, very, very successful people in any field, there’s usually a cost associated to that at some part of their life. And for all of us, we’re gonna have to make those choices as we go through our lives.

QUINTIN PRICE: There are no rehearsals in this business. And I think it’s really important to make those choices thoughtfully and most importantly, deliberately. So winning and the will to lead would be the two books I’d recommend fantastic interesting choices, but books that I haven’t read.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: So I’m going to add those to my my book list and my and I’m gonna put those in the show notes, Quentin Price. Thank you so much for doing this. It’s been great fun and I really appreciate your time and Steve, it’s a real pleasure.

QUINTIN PRICE: And you know, I’m second to no one and my admiration of your, your particular skills and talents. And while, you know, I know the objective of the show is not to point those out and you certainly haven’t asked me to say this, but I’ve never come across anybody with your forensic skills.

QUINTIN PRICE: And thank goodness that people like you around to show us the way when there are bing and shy around to save us from the very painful job of finding that out in ways that more.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Thank you so much.

QUINTIN PRICE: Take care.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: Quentin Price has occupied a position of great seniority in some really large organizations. I’ve never been a manager and hated working in large companies and I never lasted long. Quentin puts his success down partly to his temperament and a highly tolerant attitude.

STEPHEN CLAPHAM: I’ve always had a very low threshold of tolerance. And in this interview, I learned that perhaps I would have managed better if I had exercised a bit more patience, not a bad lesson to learn. I be it perhaps a bit late for me. But thanks to Quinton for coming on, I learned a lot and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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